Waitress Job Description

Waitresses (also called servers) take orders and serve food and drinks to customers in restaurants, bars, and other dining establishments.

In casual dining restaurants, guests expect waitresses to be efficient, quick and friendly. Some of these restaurants are chains, while others are owned by small families. In these restaurants, waitresses sometimes have to make salads and desserts in addition to their duties as servers.

Working as a waitress in a fine dining establishment is much more demanding. A strong understanding of food and wine pairings is often required, and customers may often rely on their waitress to make recommendations based on their tastes. In some cases, waitresses are even required to prepare some items at their guests’ tables.

Common responsibilities for waitress jobs include:

  • Taking orders for food and drinks and delivering them to the kitchen.
  • Collecting payments from customers.
  • Cleaning tables after customers have finished their meals.
  • Stocking work stations with silverware, napkins, and other supplies.
  • Preparing tables for meals.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most waitresses work in full service restaurants. The majority of them work part time, but full time positions are also common. Because restaurants are often busiest on nights and weekends, waitresses normally need to work during those times.

This can be a stressful occupation during lunch or dinner hours when the restaurant gets busy. Trying to serve customers quickly and keep them happy can be difficult, especially when the kitchen is slammed with orders.

Customers can become very agitated when they’re waiting for their food, so waitresses have to learn good customer service skills to keep them as happy as possible.

Though you might not realize it, working as a waitress can be very physically demanding. Waitresses stand on their feet for the entire duration of their shifts, and in busy restaurants they need to move around constantly. Trays of food are often heavy, and carrying them around can take a physical toll by the time their shift is over.

Waitresses make the majority of their money from tips. All waitresses go through periods where they aren’t tipped as well they should be, and this can be a source of stress. Since income is never guaranteed, learning how to manage money is important.

How to Become a Waitress

There are rarely any educational requirements for getting a job as a waitress. Getting a job in this occupation is often a popular choice for high school and college students who are looking for a part time job that doesn’t interfere with their academic schedule. In most restaurants, waitress positions are entry level, so employers provide training on the job.

Waitress training can be very broad, and normally covers topics that include serving techniques, sanitation standards, customer service, and overall restaurant policies. Training is also a great way to meet other new members of the waitstaff, and to become familiar with the operations within a restaurant.

In most states, you can start working as a waitress when you’re 16 years old. However, waitresses can’t serve alcoholic beverages until they’re at least 18.

While it’s not always necessary, previous experience in a customer service, sales, or food service occupation can help improve your chances of getting a job in this field.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 2,260,300 waitresses in the United States, with 132,430 new waitress job openings created each year.

Waitress jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Waitress Salaries

Overall Salaries

Waitress salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most waitresses make between $17,200 – $22,100 per year, or $8.25 – $10.61 per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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